Babylon Revisited

As much as I enjoyed reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Babylon Revisited” I couldn’t seem to make any connections with Tuan’s chapter on “Architectural Space and Awareness” and so this response will be about how Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” makes better connections to Tuan than “Babylon Revisited”. In Poe’s story the main focus is based around a spooky house like something you’d see straight out of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. As Tuan talks about in his chapter certain structures make people have a different sense of awareness. Basically, the size, shape, color of a building for example will give a person a different feel when they are near the structure or within it. A large and decorated structure with a rather blown-up interior will make a person feel meager and make them act well behaved.
In Poe’s story the actual house the Usher dynasty (?) lived in was a spooky sort of house, very dreary and overwhelming that seemed to emanate an a disturbing and haunting aura that would make most people foreign to it want to leave; I like to imagine bats flying about as lightning strikes in the background while a harsh squall passes through ruffling and jarring any unfortunate bystanders. As the unnamed narrator ventures into the seemingly haunted house to meet his good friend Roderick Usher he soon feels it was probably a mistake as a rush of discomfort and regret begins to occupy his very being. The home is dark, damp, and probably clean but still feels dirty and the air seems to be filled with paranoia and sickness mainly due to Roderick and Madeline Usher’s demeanor. Though the narrator was uncomfortable the entire time he was in this home it only got worse when Roderick’s sister Madeline supposedly died and they had buried her in the catacomb like underpants of the house. Knowing there was something so heinous beneath him the narrator began to lose sleep and started to become almost as paranoid as Roderick Usher was acting. When Madeline arose from the dead and attacked them in the last portion of the story she almost seemed to embody the feelings and aura of the house itself in all its spookiness, fright, dreariness, frailness and cartoon-like state. As the narrator made his escape he watched as the crack the house had from its base to roof developed into a large fissure which brought the house down finally ending the legacy of the house of usher. It’s easy to see that your structural surroundings can change your personality and actions given enough time. Your awareness sometimes heightens depending on the space and you become a different person. I think that’s the main point of all this.

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